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Your Environment. Your Health.

Indoor Air Quality and Health in Japan

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Centre Hokkaido University
Reiko Kishi, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor and Deputy Director
Hokkaido University Center for Environmental and Health Sciences
Description of studies
  1. A questionnaire-based study in 2,257 single-family dwellings from 6 regions in Japan, followed by indoor environmental monitoring of chemicals and biological factors, and dampness problems, in 425 dwellings.
  2. A questionnaire-based study of 7,646 elementary school children, followed by indoor environmental monitoring in 178 homes including Sapporo city
Website link
Location of cohort 6 areas in Japan, including Sapporo
Chemicals/Exposures studied Aldehydes, volatile organic compounds (VOC), semi-volatile organic compounds (phthalates, phosphorus flame retardants, pyrethroids, and organophosphate pesticides), microbial VOCs, beta-glucan, endotoxin, and mite allergens
Health or social effects studied Asthma and allergy, sick building syndrome
Samples collected House dust, urine
Questionnaires Yes; Questionnaires were used to obtain the following information: building structure, housing and residents’ characteristics, materials used in interiors, and health status including sick building syndrome, asthma and allergic diseases.
Key Findings Higher levels of formaldehydes in indoor air were associated with increase in prevalence of sick building syndrome and more compliance of dampness problems. Significant associations were found between in-home concentrations of certain microbial VOCs and home-related mucous symptoms, medical history of allergic rhinitis, and conjunctivitis. Phthalate levels in floor dust were higher in dwellings that had PVC flooring in the main living area. Phthalate concentrations in floor dust were associated with the prevalence of allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and atopic dermatitis, especially among children less than 14-years old. Higher levels of phosphorous flame retardants (PFR) in floor dust was associated with a medical history of asthma and atopic dermatitis. PFR levels in Japanese homes were higher compared to reported values for homes in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the USA.

Kishi R, Saijo Y, Kanazawa A, Tanaka M, Yoshimura T, Chikara H, Takigawa T, Morimoto K, Nakayama K, Shibata E: Regional differences in residential environments and the association of dwellings and residential factors with the sick house syndrome: a nationwide cross-sectional questionnaire study in Japan. Indoor Air 2009, 19:243-254. [Abstract]
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